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Mid Coast Hospital Encourages Medicaid Expansion

Mid Coast–Parkview Health supports Medicaid expansion, a choice Maine voters will face on a statewide ballot initiative in the upcoming election.
Expanding Medicaid (MaineCare) is important to our local healthcare system and to the communities we serve. Here are some facts that illustrate and support our position:

1. Up to 80,000 Mainers are not getting needed healthcare in the right place at the right time.

The lack of access to services often leads to people suffering preventable, more complex, and expensive-to-treat illnesses down the road. It also forces them to rely on emergency rooms for primary care, which is both expensive and less effective long-term.Asthma, diabetes, and even cancer, for example, are often treatable when found early, before costly complications set in. Many low-income uninsured Mainers are working, and access to health care helps keep them on the job.

2. Uncompensated care has become a hidden tax on individuals and businesses that pay insurance premiums. 

Expanding Medicaid in Maine will help to offset the adverse impact not only on hospitals providing charity care, but also on businesses that are seeing higher insurance premiums annually. At Mid Coast Hospital, the amount of free care given to those unable to pay has increased from $11.9 million in 2013 to $18.6 million last year.These numbers continue to grow as a result of the increase in deductibles and out-of-pocket costs that are becoming unaffordable for many, as well as the reductions in MaineCare enrollment.

3. Hospitals accepted significant cuts to Medicare that were meant to be neutral when expansion took place. These cuts will stay in place whether Maine expands Medicaid or not.

If we expand Medicaid as 31 other states have, Maine will receive funds from the federal government to cover the cost through 2019. In 2020 and beyond, the U.S. government will pay 90 percent of Maine’s expanded Medicaid costs. Without expansion, the federal government funds only 60 percent of Medicaid costs, leaving the remaining 40 percent to Maine taxpayers.

This beneficial federal match rate is already being financed through significant Medicare cuts to hospitals. Those cuts to Maine hospitals began a few years ago and will total nearly $900 million over the first 10 years of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The adverse effect on Mid Coast Hospital of the federal Medicare reimbursement rate cuts is $1.5 million per year -- $15 million over the next 10 years for just our community hospital.Mid Coast Hospital supported these cuts, believing that with the expanded access to health insurance through the new health insurance exchanges of the ACA, and the expansion of Medicaid, the result would be somewhat cost-neutral. The cuts are here to stay regardless of whether we expand Medicaid.

When lower reimbursements for Medicare are coupled with growing amounts of charity care, community hospitals’ existence is threatened. Maine hospitals already operate well below U.S. hospitals’ median margins and nearly half of the hospitals in the state lost money last year.

4. We must work together to reduce the cost of healthcare.

Mid Coast Hospital is committed to lowering the cost of healthcare in this region of Maine, which is evident in the fact that our costs are 30% below state average. Yet, we all need to do more. One example is our focus on primary care and community health and wellness as the foundation of our healthcare system. By focusing on keeping people healthy, we not only help bring down costs, but more importantly, improve the lives of the people who live and work in our community.

Mid Coast–Parkview Health acknowledges that Medicaid expansion is a complex issue and there are many competing views. Additionally, we typically do not support the referendum process as a means to achieve policy goals. Nevertheless, after careful analysis, we believe the best choice for our local healthcare system and for our community, is to support Medicaidexpansion this November.
 
 
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